There is this thing that happens as you grow up;
your family traditions stop being the rituals you have customarily shared with your parents and elders, but they start to evolve, slowly, into things that are perhaps unique and new.
Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.
Instead of celebrating with parents or family members or friends, as we typically would, it was just the four of us. My little family.
And really, that is how I remember celebrating Hanukkah with my family of four as a chlid. Sure, I remember the big family gatherings, but my most vivid and evocative memories are of chanting the blessings with my parents, wearing matching flannel nightgowns with my little sister, (always with ruffles at the seams) and instead of singing “Az ‘egmor beshir mizmor, Khanukat hamizbeakh.” I thought that it was actually “Azegmore, and hear me snore.”
So last night, after dinner, my daughter got dressed in a flannel nightgown, with ruffles at the seams, and I held my son as I chanted the blessings (since I am really the only one in my house now who knows them all). And it was different, but it was lovely. We have a mountain of presents for my daughter, from grandparents, great-grandparents and friends, but last night we gave her our “big gift”: a blanket that has a hood that looks like a cat and glows in the dark. She saw a commercial for it on the television and had been asking for it for weeks, and so when she pulled this 19 dollar gift out of the Hanukkah bag she squealed with delight. And I could tell that she really appreciated her gift. It didn’t get lost in a sea of excitement and wrapping paper. She wore it and folded it and watched it light up. And every time I checked on her last night, she was in a different position in bed, cuddling her new blanket in some way.
It was a strange feeling, to be the grown up in all of this; the one to light the candles and say the blessings and give the gifts. And it stuck with me throughout the night. As I was tidying up the kitchen before bed, a penny fell from the sky. Now, I don’t know that it actually fell from the sky, but it fell from somewhere above and knocked me in the head before landing, face up, on the ground beside me.
We are growing up around here. And that’s ok.
Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate,
and to anyone and everyone else, I wish you a year of light, love,
and maybe even a miracle or two.